Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Nationals – 07/07/11

Game Eighty-Nine: Cubs (35-53) vs. Nationals (45-43)
Game Time – 6:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Nationals Park, Washington D.C.

Matt Garza (4-7, 3.77/1.27) vs. Livan Hernandez (5-8, 3.73/1.35)

Updated: 3:45pm CDTAccording to multiple reports, Ryan Dempster’s side session Thursday went well and Dempster will start Saturday’s game against the Pirates

Mike Quade will hand the ball tonight to Matt Garza in need of a long outing from the only dependable starter right now in his rotation. The Cubs are at the end of a stretch of 38 games in 38 days (Thursday is game 35) and the play on the field shows. The Cubs look like a team that needs a break … and unless something changes, they will go into the All-Star break without a three-game winning streak this season.

After receiving a couple of days off, Kosuke Fukudome should be back in the starting lineup tonight with Reed Johnson getting a breathier.

In other news Ryan Dempster played catch Wednesday and is scheduled to throw a side session prior to tonight’s game. If all goes well, Dempster will start on Saturday night against the Pirates. If Dempster cannot complete his bullpen session, the Cubs will place Dempster on the DL and recall Casey Coleman to make the start on Saturday. If that happens, the Cubs starters for the final series prior to the break will be: Rodrigo Lopez, Casey Coleman and Ramon Ortiz.

Jeff Baker was unable to take batting practice prior to Wednesday’s game and was unavailable off the bench. Quade is hoping that Baker will be able to play tonight. Baker is officially listed as day-to-day.

The Cubs are 13-27 since May 27 (.325 winning percentage) and tonight it all starts with Matt Garza

Matt Garza will make his last start before the break tonight. Garza is coming off a complete game loss to the White Sox in which he took a no hitter into the sixth inning. Garza was filthy and while it is easy to say it was his best pitching performance of the year … it really was.

Garza has pitched better at Wrigley (3-3 in eight starts with a 3.27 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP) than on the road this season (1-4 in seven starts with a 4.43 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP).

The Cubs need an effective, long outing from Garza tonight.

Matt Garza is 2-3 in his last six starts with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP (17 runs, 16 earned, on 30 hits with 12 walks and 27 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings).

Tonight will be Garza’s second career start against the Nationals … no record in one game with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.94 WHIP. Garza last faced Washington on June 12, 2009 at Tropicana Field.

Nationals Career Numbers against Matt Garza

  • Alex Cora – 0-for-3
  • Ivan Rodriguez – 5-for-15 with a walk
  • Matt Stairs – 2-for-13 with 2 walks
  • Jayson Werth – 1-for-3 with a home run
  • Ryan Zimmerman – 1-for-3

The Cubs will face the ageless wonder, Livan Hernandez tonight … and if the offense does not make him work the veteran right-hander will have a field day tonight.

Livan Hernandez has put together a good season and is coming off a no decision against the Pirates. Pittsburgh scored only two runs on six hits against Hernandez in seven innings but the Nationals lost the game 5-3.

Hernandez was very good last month and posted a 2-2 record in five starts with a 3.66 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. Hernandez struck out 24 and walked just six in 32 innings. At home this season, Hernandez has been lights out (4-2 in nine starts with a 2.49 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP).

Tonight will be the 23rd start of Hernandez’s career against the Chicago Cubs. He is 11-7 with a 4.16 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP.

Cubs Career Numbers against Livan Hernandez

  • Jeff Baker – 3-for-7 with 2 doubles
  • Marlon Byrd – 9-for-27 with a double and 2 walks
  • Starlin Castro – 1-for-3
  • Blake DeWitt – 2-for-3 with a home run
  • Kosuke Fukudome – 3-for-5 with a double and 2 walks
  • Koyie Hill – 1-for-1 with a walk
  • Reed Johnson – 5-for-16 with a double and a triple
  • Carlos Pena – 0-for-5 with a walk
  • Aramis Ramirez – 12-for-33 with 3 doubles, 4 home runs and 2 walks
  • Alfonso Soriano – 7-for-21 with a double and a triple
  • Geovany Soto – 1-for-4 with 2 walks

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